27 November 2012

FamilySearch Adds to Genealogy Community Fundraising Effort

If ever something deserved a WOW and a THANK YOU, this is it! The following is excerpted from a Press Release received today from the Federation of Genealogical Societies:

November 27, 2012 – Austin, TX. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is pleased to announce that the War of 1812 “Preserve the Pensions” Digitization Fund received a generous donation this week of $250,000 from FamilySearch, a nonprofit organization and world leader in the genealogy community. The donation helps move the Fund closer to its goal of $3.7 million in donations to digitally preserve and index the War of 1812 pension and bounty land records.

The War of 1812, often called the “Second Revolution,” was a pivotal moment in our Nation’s history. Individual states struggled to become one nation after a long-fought Revolution, and the “American Experiment” was still at a precarious stage. The strength and courage of the patriots who fought in the War of 1812 ensured that our American Revolution did not end up as a mere footnote to British history and conquest. Instead, valiant farmers, merchants, seamen, fathers, and sons became soldiers to fight for what they and their fathers had believed in: their American home.

Now, two hundred years later, the War of 1812 “Preserve the Pensions” Digitization Fund celebrates their success, honor, and memories by digitally preserving the veterans’ pension records and making them freely accessible to all online.  The initiative will digitally preserve the 180,000 War of 1812 pension records (7.2 million pages) located at NARA, and create a searchable index online. Currently, NARA receives over 3,000 patron requests per year for copies of soldiers’ files.

“The Federation is extremely grateful to FamilySearch for their generous support of this enormously important endeavor,” said Curt Witcher, vice president of development for FGS. “Linking the genealogical community, marshaling that community’s resources, preserving and making accessible records that document our heritage—all are central to the Federation's mission. FamilySearch’s very generous pacesetting gift helps ensure that this 21st century preservation and access project is a reality.”

David Rencher, chief genealogy officer for FamilySearch, said, “FamilySearch publishes over 400 million images of historic documents online for free each year, and is honored to support community efforts like the War of 1812 ‘Preserve the Pensions’ Digitization Fund to preserve and make additional high priority historic records more widely available.”

The War of 1812 files are very valuable to family historians and genealogists because they contain rich information such as:
  • Veteran’s name and age
  • Residence
  • Widow’s name and maiden name
  • Service history and dates
  • Military rank and organization
  • If Bounty Land was granted and information on those warrants
  • Marriage information
  • Death dates for soldiers and widows
  • Additional names of neighbors and comrades
Anyone can donate to the project at www.fgs.org/1812. Each pension page costs $0.45 to digitize. Each dollar of contribution digitizes two pages. Every little bit helps. To view the FREE images already online, go to: http://go.fold3.com/1812pensions

Family Search: https://familysearch.org/
Federation of Genealogical Societies: http://www.fgs.org/

Disclosure: I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Federation of Genealogical Societies

25 November 2012

Scotland and genealogy tourism: I'll volunteer

The Scotsman.com from Edinburgh, Scotland carried an article today titled "Scotland Urged to Refocus on Genealogy Tourism."

WHOEVER they think they are they deserve the red carpet treatment for a new study estimates people searching for their roots will be worth ­­­£2.4 billion to Scotland over the next five years.

The potential of so-called ancestral tourism has been outlined in a report by consultants TNS, which estimates a potential market of 50 million people of Scottish ancestry.

But services need to be improved if Scotland is to cash in, including promoting existing research facilities, specialist tour operators and the creation of budget “genealogy packages”."

Here's my offer: I will volunteer to be a test research tourist for this effort. My Stuart, Grant, and Forbes connections are from the area of Strathdon in Aberdeen. Robert and Mary (Grant) Stuart are my great great great grandparents. Their son James born about 1815 in that area and was later a jailer in several places in Angus. He married Helenor Edwards and had children in several places there including Arbroath. The Edwards tie into Allardyce, Leighton, and other families. Then James and Helenor came to Wisconsin with their children and descendants ended up in Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, California, Colorado, Florida, and other places. I really need to visit both counties in Scotland and the National Archives in Edinburgh.

I need to consult some original records to make up for gaps in microfilmed records, need to visit the old "home towns" and take pictures to share, and figure out where my Stuart ancestors originated. 

Just think of all the publicity I could help them with here in the United States. I could mention my trip everywhere I lecture, in my blog, in articles in genealogy publications, on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, in the popular press, and to my fellow family historians. I would distribute brochures every place I went. All I would require is the plane and train tickets, hotels, and of course, a guide in all the places. It could be a Christmas present to me. I am sure it will happen. Right?

Now, back to reality.

To read the full article, click here.